NB Pioneer Days Series III:  A First-Person Account

NB Pioneer Days Series III:  A First-Person Account

By Tom Boltz and North Baltimore Ohio Area Historical Society 

In the late 1890s and early 1900s, George W. Wilkinson, the editor of the North Baltimore Beacon, encouraged elderly local residents to write about their experiences in the settling of Henry Township and the founding of North Baltimore, Ohio.  He published their letters in a series of articles which he titled “Interesting Pioneer Sketches.” 

The following article was written by Alonzo Johnson Roberts (born 1856- died 1916).  It describes scenes from the early days of Peter’s Crossroads/North Baltimore.  This article is directly transcribed from the North Baltimore Beacon of August 16, 1901.

THE OLD SCHOOL HOUSE

On the Corner–The Dedication of the B&O Railroad

The First Ride–Singing School Class at Peters’ Corners–

The Old Class at School–Late Johnson Built the First Pine Dwelling

The first school building in N. Baltimore was built in 1860 on the northwest corner of N. Main and W. Broadway.  It was later moved to Margaret Avenue and served as a residence.  (Photo taken June 1969.)

A.J. Roberts

Fort Scott, Kansas

August 3, 1901

Editor—I will confine my reminiscences to about the time of the starting of the town of North Baltimore at what was then called Peters’ Crossroads.

The school house was situated just north of the Stouffer corner and was used as a church and in fact as a meeting place for all gatherings. At that time, we had Sunday school every Sabbath and B. L. Peters was our superintendent and advisor in all entertainments.  I can look back with only kindly feelings for him and the many pleasant times he was instrumental in bringing about. How well we remember the Sunday school celebration held in Hough’s grove north of town. We can almost imagine we can hear the shrill notes of the fife played by that good old man Uncle Johnny Evilsizer the drum to which we marched and the flag we are so proud of.

How the county has changed. We remember the first grade stake of the Railway we discovered on our way to Sunday school and the talk of a town being built, first called Petersburg then New Baltimore and finally changed to North Baltimore.

The day the first railroad cars were to reach the town a celebration and big dinner was arranged to be had at Peters’ new barn just completed. They did not quite reach the town that day, having the track laid as far as the creek east of the town, but we celebrated, fired anvils, rendered a musical program and had a big dinner. Although the day was rainy we enjoyed ourselves immensely. The railroad company had promised us an excursion to Fostoria but failed to give it for some reason, but they allowed us to climb upon a flat car and ride out east to a water tank located somewhere near where Bloomdale is now located. We enjoyed the ride which to many of us was our first ride on a railroad.

The first house built in the town was a residence near where Clark’s drug store is now located and was erected by Jasper Hutton.  The next was a store room built by B. L. Peters opposite Stouffer’s place. The next I think was a small office opposite the schoolhouse and was built by Dr. Henry. The first beer sold in North Baltimore was sold by Cyrus Groves and was sold in tin cups. It was in the back end of a wagon as he had not yet unloaded it.  He had a building just north of the rail road on the east side of the street. The first merchants were B.L. Peters and Ebb Poe & James Filson as we remember them. Many of the old settlers are dead so we’re told and a city built up where we once hunted rabbits and, yet it seems but a short time since the farms of Levi Tarr and B. L. Peters were cultivated, and they had not thought of a city springing up at that place. The literary societies and singing schools furnished all of the diversion we wanted, and everybody seem to enjoy life to the fullest extent. Now all is changed. Many men who we believe to be as good men as ever lived in Henry and Allen are dead and gone. Yet they did their work, left their marks, and many of us are better men and women by reason their having lived among us.

The young men and women who attended singing school at Peters’ school house when Jim Jelly was the teacher and who were members of the Sunday school held there long before the town of North Baltimore was thought of, are scattered all over the world. Many are dead, many have no doubt succeeded in life and are the honored heads of families. Some may have failed yet none have been the worse for having been members of that Sunday school or that singing class. I well remember my class in that school, Amos Needham being our teacher. The members of the class were in part Erastus Hutton, Jonas Carrol, Hammond Peters, Jos. Tarr, Frank Ausenbaugh, Dave Schauffer, John Shaffer, Henry Grant, and Dallas Archer. How many of those mentioned are living I do not know as it is many years since I have met any of them.

We are told that quite a city has been built up at Peters’ Corners, as we used to call it, and we would feel lost among the many strange faces. Yet it is a pleasure to know that the town has been prosperous and the people successful and happy.

When our mind reverts to our old home the names of many old settlers come before us; the Boyers, the Bells, the Blossers, and the Swabs, whom we are told are all gone. We also learn that the cemetery that was located opposite Levi Tarr’s residence has been removed and buildings occupy its place.

The first house built from pine lumber was built by a Mr. Johnson, Lafe I think, and it was quite a curiosity to many of us. It was located in the west part of the village.

I hope to read articles from many who are more capable than myself, and know many interesting reminiscences will be recited.

8 Responses to NB Pioneer Days Series III:  A First-Person Account

  1. Evonne McConnell says:

    I really enjoy reading these articles and finding out how North Baltimore grew during its early years. Those letters were written a long time ago and yet we can recognize some of the last names of people who lived here then. Thank you for taking the time to publish these letters.

  2. Sherry (Bauman) (Graham) Huff says:

    Excellent read. Thoroughly enjoy accounts of the beginning years of good ole North Baltimore. It is still my hometown emotionally even though I physically reside in Florida.

  3. Jon Downs says:

    Kudos JP! These are indeed interesting reads.

  4. Paula Miklovic says:

    Regarding “the cemetery that was located opposite Levi Tarr’s residence has been removed . . .”, it was known as Bell Cemetery and it was reported as located on East South Street (now American Legion Drive) between Main and Tarr. Families were laid to rest there as far back as 1847 but the bodies were re-interred in 1907 at Maplewood to make way for a street. According to a newspaper article by Elva Lyon “The Mayor soon had to issue an ultimatum against digging or hauling sand and gravel from the site of the old cemetery, and there have persisted down through the years the rumors that the removal of remains to the new cemetery was somewhat less than 100 per cent complete.”

  5. What a wonderful letter about the history of North Baltimore. I would love to read more about the town I was raised in. I had no idea about how it started. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
    Ann Broughton

  6. What a wonderful letter about the history of North Baltimore. I would love to read more about the town I was raised in. I had no idea about how it started. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
    Ann Broughton

  7. Ann Broughton says:

    Great article!! I love to read about the history of North Baltimore.

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